What a difference a half-block makes. The staff of The Jewish Week — working well into the night — completed much of this week’s edition at The New York Times late Tuesday night after police ordered an evacuation of The Week’s Times Square offices following the collapse of a construction elevator and 20 floors of scaffolding at a skyscraper being built across the street.
The Jewish Week, in the Paramount Building at 1501 Broadway, moved its editorial and production operations around the corner to the Times at 229 W. 43rd St., which was not affected by the evacuation order.
The move came as The Jewish Week prepared to lay out this week’s issue in preparation for its Wednesday press run. William Schmidt, The Times’ associate managing editor, learned of his neighbor’s dilemma and offered to help.
“We would have never been able to get the paper out this week if not for the incredible support of The Times,” said Gary Rosenblatt, Jewish Week editor and publisher. “They empathized with our problem and pitched in way beyond the call of duty. We offered to reciprocate, if the need arises, but they just smiled.”
The mishap, which occurred at 43rd Street and Broadway in what will be known as the Conde Nast building, sent debris crashing to the ground and through the living room of an apartment in the Woodstock Hotel across the street, killing its 73-year-old occupant and injuring 12 others. Police fears that more debris would rain down on 43rd Street and the surrounding area forced them to evacuate tens of thousands of employees from several buildings in the heart of the world’s busiest city.
The accident occurred at 8:24 a.m. After the Paramount Building was ordered closed at 1:30 p.m., The Times’ Schmidt called Jane Guttman, director of The Times’ resource center. Together with Joe Vellone, the disaster-recovery manager, they arranged for 18 Jewish Week personnel to set up shop in offices throughout The Times’ seventh-floor suites.Carrying with them a waxing machine that affixes ads and stories to paste-up boards, The Jewish Week staff moved into a conference room, a newly completed resource center with a dozen computers and various work cubicles.
“We’re constantly working on our own disaster-recovery plan, but we’ve never been on the disaster recovery end,” said Guttman as a team of Times support personnel greeted The Jewish Week staff.
Kris Tennent, group director of publishing systems at The Times, said the paper had a disaster drill just a month ago to demonstrate it could produce a 16- to 20-page paper from an emergency newsroom set up at its Edison, N.J. printing plant.
“When we heard you guys were vacating, it was a little too close for us,” she said.Said Rosenblatt: “The incident gives new meaning for us to the phrase Wandering Jews.”